October 20th, 2014
The drum rolls as we announce the winners of the iClone Fan Film Challenge. Each winner receives a full license of the software iClone4 provided by the contest sponsors over at Reallusion.com.
And remember! Reallusion.com is hosting their 2nd Annual iClone Filmmaking Competition over at their website handing out over $10,000 worth of prizes. How awesome is that?
Here are the winners and their concepts in no particular order.
The Trial of Captain Nemo
The iClone software is unique in the regard that it would provide me, and filmmakers like me, with the unique opportunity to create worlds that would be too expensive to build in the real world, or too time consuming to create and render out in a different 3D modeling software. This would enable the creation of ambitious projects others could only dream about creating.
One such project that would benefit greatly from iClone would be a fanfilm take on 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. The Trial of Captain Nemo.
A huge creative obstacle to fan-filmmakers is the lack of funds required to create period films. Without huge budgets to build elaborate sets and have access to period props and vehicles, most projects remain grounded in either the present day, or the not-so-distant future. An undertaking like 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, to most filmmakers working on a shoestring budget, would seem undoable. But, with the addition of iClone, things suddenly become a lot simpler.
Underwater Nautilus cut scenes would be a breeze with iClone. What would take days to build in a more elaborate 3D design software could be masterfully crafted in a matter of hours, with comparable results. Land scenes could be built with a composite of iClone buildings and actual footage of landscape, or the entire world could be built within the software. Either way, actors would be superimposed and integrated into the film with the software. The digital camera animating tools could be utilized to great effect, matching the movements of the film camera, creating a feel of realism that is usually only attained through the use of a computer controlled camera.
Imagine if you will, a sea-side village at the turn of the century, lights a-glow from a local cultural festival. When suddenly, a spot on the ocean begins to stir violently. A eerie green light shines from the turmoil and the Nautilus emerges from the depths. As the water calms, a hatch opens on the submarine and Captain Nemo steps out, observing the warm glow of the village and reflecting on his life at sea.
JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings took the better part of 50 years to make it to the big screen, until the technology was available to realize the vision. In that endeavor, it took a very large team of production staff and high end computers and software along with many man hours to create the films. The Hobbit was written by JRR Tolkien in 1937 and the difficulty in realizing this story was due to the same limitations that the Lord of the Rings faced. To date, the Hobbit was only created in movie form by Raplh Bakshi back in the 1970’s, again with a whole production team to work on the movie, and while a new production team is working on the big screen version of The Hobbit, the fact remains that their approach will take many man hours, millions of dollars and span two to four years.
With Reallusion’s iClone 3D movie making software, the power to realize such a vision can be realized by one person. iClone enables the individual, the hobbyist, the passionate fan to sit in his room and by himself recreate the vision and story of the Hobbit into a 3D machinima movie – the output of many rolled into the efforts of one. Reallusion’s iClone encapsulates many of the features, capabilities often found in very high end, expensive and professional tools thus enabling the everyday person with the ability to create and realize his or her vision . Such is the power of iClone – and in that phrase the essence of ‘The Hobbit’ is also captured, a little hobbit doing what many others with more resources have been trying to do – defeat the dragon Smaug.
I’m currently in the planning phase of a Batgirl-centric fan film, targeted primarily at existing (male) fans, but meant to appeal to anyone with an interest in female-lead action films with a good story. I think that’s an area of the film industry in general that hasn’t been tapped of its full potential, but in fan films especially. I think a good film about Batgirl would help to broaden the horizons of viewers, many of whom typically disregard side characters like her as unimportant – or uninteresting. However, a big draw for the film would also be the inclusion of villain Mr. Freeze, who has not transferred particularly well into the world of fan films – particularly because he’s so difficult to create on screen for a live-action piece. Even though Freeze has an integral part of the story as a villain, the movie’s spirit lies in the primary character, Batgirl – the Barbara Gordon version – who’s strength of self brings her to overcome multiple challenges.
One important thing to consider when taking on a large-scope fan film effort is whether one can actually follow through with the effort, as so many fan filmmakers fail in delivering on their promises due to a lack of motivation to overcome their own obstacles. In my own experience, I have seen both success and failure. I created Dark Nights Part One and The Real Dark Knight (both available on batmanfanfilms.com), but halfway through Dark Nights Part Two, I ran into difficulties resulting in an indefinite postponement of the film’s release. For this new film, which is still as of yet untitled, I have decided to start off by doing webisodes to build up to the film first as a kind of test both for interest in the idea and of my ability to deliver quantities of quality work. The webisodes would be based on two of the key concepts in the film that don’t actually exist as part of the story but play a huge part:
1) the origins of Victor Fries, re-envisioned for this particular story and
2) ‘Legends of the Batmen’ – personal stories from Gotham (and neighboring area) residents who claimed to have seen one of the Batmen or Batwomen, from various perspectives.
A key element in the success of this film, or even just the series, is the quality of the production – with special emphasis on the animation. Of the two short films I’ve done so far, my work has been decently well received, based on feedback from reviews and comments, but it seems that the most questionable element has been the animation itself. In venturing back into the world of animated fan films, I want to make sure that I am able to make the visuals match the story, and hopefully really make a stunning piece that would stand out in the world of fan films as one with a more professional, but still unique look. I already have an original animation style, but I’m looking to improve it by studying different tools and techniques that can allow me to elevate my work to new levels. After taking a closer look at the iClone software, I think it could potentially make a big difference in allowing me to produce work more quickly – once given the time to get to know the software. I don’t know for sure how I will use it since I haven’t yet worked with it, but based on what I’ve seen, it may be a great help in quickly generating virtual sets or props – possibly even helping with character creation, although I have my own method for designing characters. Though I am not in need, I would be very interested in seeing how this software may help me produce graphics for any kind of film, in addition to the one that I’m currently planning out.